Due to the mounting awareness and significant reduction in taboo associated with female hygiene, recently there has been considerable research in this area. The findings of these studies consistently report that although feminine products (such as tampons and sanitary pads) have undergone substantial evolution in both quality and design; by being overpriced they continue to be beyond the reach for many. One of the primary reasons behind the high cost of these products is that they are deemed as ‘luxuries’ by governmental budgets (rather than a fundamental need) and hence are taxed. Another reason stems from the lack of regulation that allows the producing firms to essentially list it at any price they consider fit.
This unavailability of such indispensable necessities has had profound effects on the lives of women and girls. Particularly citing examples set in India and Africa it is reported that girls routinely miss school or in many cases permanently drop out due to the complications posed by menstruation. Consequently having severe negative affects on their already wavering right to education. Next infection furthering into a tangible risk to health and life, has been listed as another negative impact of the lack of hygiene products. It is reported that the risk of infection increases during the menstrual cycle and can be exasperated by unhygienic practices such as use of rags and newspapers. However this situation is not just limited to developing economies, rather, inadequate availability of feminine products has also been observed in many United States prisons. In many locations inmates are expected to buy their own products and lack thereof is not fulfilled by the system. Thus deliberately placing these women in physical and stemming from the same emotional stress and danger.
In order to alleviate this situation, Arunachalam Muruganantham a social entrepreneur based out of Coimbatore, India has devised a low cost methodology for producing female hygiene products. His company known as Jayaashree Industries is not directly competing with large multi-national players such as Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson. Rather by adopting a decentralized and microeconomic mode of production the firm is building a niche within a market that has been previously untapped. Within this business model the only centralized portions are machinery, raw material supply, technology and partial quality control. In terms of labor each production unit requires 6-7 semi-skilled labors. The raw materials used are mostly locally accessible thereby further relieving financial pressure. Inversely multinational companies may not be able to enter this market precisely due to their large-scale production systems. Due to the expense of the machines and customer expectation of additional features such as odor control and shape, it would be difficult for these firms to bring down their current prices.
Hence in conclusion it seems like the two business models are co-existing in the same industry until one can catch up with the other.